P.R. Firms Are Going Direct-to-Consumer, Too – WWD


LONDON — Frustrated with relying on magazines, newspapers and fashion media platforms to relay its brands’ messages, the London p.r. firm Agency Eleven has decided to go direct-to-consumer with a new editorial platform aimed at showcasing content that often ends up getting archived or simply forgotten.

On Wednesday, the agency, which represents brands including Gentle Monster, Martine Rose, Nicholas Daley and Natasha Zinko, plans to debut Agency Eleven Studio, an editorial platform that aims to “amplify and create noise through profiles, news and the moving image.”

Even before COVID-19 rattled the industry, fashion and luxury p.r. companies were being forced to shape shift, and find new ways of serving their clients with smaller budgets, and in an environment where many fashion media organizations are demanding pay for even the smallest editorial exposure.

Smaller brands cannot afford to work this way, so often end up going direct to consumer anyway, leaving p.r. companies in the cold. It’s no wonder, then, that a raft of big-name agencies have shut offices, laid off staff and attempted to tailor their services to this new, and much tougher, environment. Long gone are the days when a simple pitch by e-mail or phone could result in coverage for a small client.

As part of the platform, which is led by former 10 Magazine editor Dino Bonacic, Agency Eleven plans to create and publish unique content for its clients.

“Our clients have noticed the value in direct-to-consumer within their sales strategy, so this seems like the correct gear change to support,” said Laura Dooley, the company’s managing director. She said the project will not just be about addressing industry professionals, but about speaking to the brands’ fan bases directly.

The focus, she added, will be global, to reflect the reach of the different labels in the company’s portfolio. Agency Eleven believes it can leverage its clients’ followers, as well as fashion aficionados, to gain traction quickly.

“We have the luxury of our designers having amazing reach amongst their communities, which gives us the edge on garnering an audience that is genuinely interested in fashion from a consumer and trade perspective,” added Dooley.

Martine Rose has more than 150,000 followers on Instagram, while Natasha Zinko and her son and collaborator Ivan have more than 260,000 followers across their various social media accounts. The cult eyewear label Gentle Monster has a following of more than 599,000.

An image from the new Agency Eleven Studio website

All of the brands will be promoting the launch on their channels. Over time, different creatives will also be commissioned to create content on the platform and share it with their audiences, in order to keep the momentum going.

“We have a network that can make great things happen,” added Dooley.

The brands already in the company’s portfolio see this as “a step into the future,” according to Dooley, as their expectations of what traditional press placements can offer them has radically shifted.

“Our clients also have a lot of information to put out seasonally, so there has to be room for a more targeted approach,” she said.

Apart from amplifying the stories of existing clients, the new platform is hoping to attract new clients who will be able to work with the agency on a content-specific, project basis. The company predicts that this new service could benefit both small-scale brands struggling to get the right exposure and also bigger names looking to collaborate with fresh, independent labels.

With the future of fashion weeks still in question, particularly for smaller brands on tighter budgets, Agency Eleven is also working toward developing new shop-able or live stream features.

“Budgets have got tight and the expectations have got higher. We [want to] navigate our designers through this changing time with ideas that mean something to them. Bespoke strategy has never been more important, and we have a real opportunity to carve out a new normal and be brave in our choices,” said Dooley.





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